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Tri-City teams young but hungry to make noise in AAAA boys high school basketball

The Heritage Woods Kodiaks and Terry Fox Ravens have each achieved Honourable Mentions in early-season rankings
Heritage Woods Kodiaks junior point guard Afu Bullock has the ability to drive the lane and dish passes says Kodiaks head coach Roj Johal.

Don’t let the absence of any teams from Coquitlam's school district (SD43) in recent AAAA rankings for the BC High School Boys Basketball Association fool you.

The teams representing Tri-City high schools are hungry to make some noise when the regular season kicks into high gear come the new year.

Here’s how they size up:

Heritage Woods Kodiaks

Heritage Woods had a taste of the provincial rankings in early December, earning an honourable mention after the Kodiaks split four games at is own Kodiak Klassic tournament and posting a similar result at the Tsumura Invitational in Langley.

Head coach Roj Johal said those experiences will serve his young squad well as many players are making the transition from junior to senior basketball.

He said while his team may be a bit undersized compared to many of its opponents, it likes to play a fast-paced style that exerts pressure up and down the court right from the opening tip-off.

Leading the offence will be senior shooting guard Aidan Wilkie who Johal praised for his pinpoint accuracy.

"There won’t be a pure shooter like him," he said.

Setting the table for Wilkie is junior point guard Afu Bullock, who can drive the zone and dish passes.

Johal called him, "dedicated, humble but also a great leader. He has chosen to come in early every day and it has affected our entire program."

Size will come from another up-and-coming junior, Ben Pearson.

"If the team can make it out of the Fraser North playoffs and earn a spot in the provincial tournament, that would be a success," said Johal.


Terry Fox Ravens

Terry Fox has also already earned an honourable mention in the early provincial rankings, but the Ravens want more, said head coach Brad Petersen, who’s back at the end of the bench after Rich Chambers guided the team last year.

"We want to start playing our best basketball in January," said Petersen. "Our goal is to compete at the highest level."

With three players now in their third season of senior ball, it’s an achievable goal, Petersen added.

"We are asking them to lead our team. We have the personnel to push the ball in transition and run up and down the floor, but can also slow it down and play in the half-court."

Grade 12 guard Ethan Chae brings skill with the ball in his hands and accuracy when he shoots it. Senior forward Brenddan Nightingale brings the size and strength to protect the rim on defence and make things happen on offence. And Matteo Frost will "have a huge impact on the outcome of every game" once he’s recovered from an ankle injury.


Dr. Charles Best Blue Devils

With eight players from last year’s team lost to graduation, the Blue Devils are a bit of an unknown quantity, admits head coach Daniel Depelteau.

"Our team’s strengths are our youth and speed and our weaknesses will be our youth and speed also," he said.

So far, in tournament and exhibition team, Depelteau said his charges have demonstrated they can run with any team but they struggle to bring that same kind of tempo to their defensive play.

Key to making that happen will be the effort put in by senior Matthew Catherwood, who Depelteau characterizes as "the Swiss Army knife" for the team who takes pride in his defensive effort and can dominate the backboards, as well as Grade 12 centre Luke Davis who will need to control the paint in the defensive zone while chipping in on offence.

Freshman Ethan Mvundura is also showing some promise, said Depelteau, bringing the kind of consistency and desire to win he normally sees from more experienced and mature players.

Depelteau said what Best lacks in talent and polish this season, they’ll make up with speed and desire.

"Our goal is to be in every game, compete until the final horn," he said. "We are not as talented as years past, but we might surprise a team or two if we’re firing on all cylinders."

Centennial Centaurs

The Centaurs are young. But they work hard and are "very coachable," says the man who does just that, Lucian Sauciuc.

They’ve also got some size going for them.

Grade 11 guard Traymaine Belanger is 6’7” and grade 10 forward Alex Birsan is 6’6”.

Getting those players to use their size while in the defensive zone of the court will be a key to the Centaurs’ success, said Sauciuc.

"The team’s strength will be centred around its post play and transition game," he said.

Pinetree Timberwolves

Pinetree coach Sassan Hossein-pour says the Timberwolves are in "rebuild mode" after failing to win a single game last season.

Already, they’ve had some success, winning the opening game of the school’s own Christmas Classic tournament, 90-62 over Samuel Robertson Technical School.

To build on that, Pinetree will look to Grade 11 power forward Jeffrey Coghill, who’s shown some prowess around the basket, including scoring 30 points against Samuel Robertson.

While every victory the Timberwolves achieve this season is a step forward, qualifying for the Fraser North zone playoffs against schools from Burnaby and New Westminster would be a triumphal leap forward.

The Gleneagle Talons, Riverside Rapids and Port Moody Blues did not respond.